Monthly Archives: October 2018

Foundations promoting ‘brand Israel’ also funding Islamophobia

Hatem Bazian writes: What do Canary Mission, far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer‘s and Pamela Geller‘s American Freedom Defense Initiative or Stop Islamization of America, the U.S. Tea Party and David Yerushalmi‘s American Freedom Law Center all have in common? They are all funded by various chapters of mainstream Jewish federations across the U.S. and the SF Diller Foundation.

In the past I wrote an article for the American Studies Journal and I estimated that 70 percent of the funding for Islamophobia propaganda comes from pro-Israel or Zionist sources; now the evidence of this is slowly emerging. To date, the single-largest expenditure to push Islamophobia in the U.S. came in the form of the Clarion Fund paying upward of $17 million to produce and distribute 28 million copies of the documentary “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West” in the run-up to the 2008 elections. This Clarion Fund expenditure was followed by another for the more Islamophobically horrific documentary, “The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America,” framing the American Muslim community civic engagement programs as a threat to the country that collectively could not be trusted. The recent reports on the San Francisco Jewish Federation and the Diller Foundation funding for the granddaddies of the Islamophobia Industry make the initial estimates very conservative.

An Oct. 3, 2018 article by Josh Nathan-Kazis titled “REVEALED: Canary Mission Blacklist Is Secretly Bankrolled by Major Jewish Federation” published in the The Forward, a politically progressive publication read by American Jews, uncovered evidence that all the above major Islamophobic figures and groups received funding from San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation and the Diller Foundation. Examining the tax returns from the 2014-2016 period, Josh Nathan-Kazis, pointed out that: “The federation’s support of Canary Mission connects the American Jewish establishment itself to a website that is facing increasing criticism from young Jews.” Canary Mission is a McCarthyite blacklisting operation that targets pro-Palestine and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) activists on college campuses to protect Israel’s brand in the U.S.

Critically, the outfits mentioned above all engage in the most despicable forms of Islamophobia and seek to demonize the American Muslim community. Funding for Geert Wilders, who pushes the most extreme anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies in the Dutch Parliament, is very disturbing and raises profound ethical and moral questions to the American Jewish community. In 2013, four members of Wilders’s Freedom Party “wore badges in Dutch Parliament … featuring a well-known neo-Nazi insignia that has links to the country’s infamous National Socialist Movement of the 1930s.” Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Wilders for an official visit to Israel but for the Diller Foundation to provide funding for a known neo-Nazi sympathizer and his party is an unforgivable act considering the current rise of white nationalist groups domestically and across the globe.

Pamela Geller‘s American Freedom Defense Initiative, or Stop the Islamization of America, was responsible for framing the community center in New York City as the “ground zero mosque” and led the 2010 campaign against it. More importantly, Geller’s bus ads in the past few years across the country generated the most insidious forms of Islamophobia in a supposed effort to protect Israel’s standing. Furthermore, Geller’s outlandish forms of Islamophobia included hosting a “draw the prophet of Islam” cartoon competition, but it seems none of this disqualified her from receiving funding from the Diller Foundation.

In U.S. political landscape, David Yerushalmi‘s American Freedom Law Center has played a very insidious role in demonizing Muslims through the sponsorship of countless anti-Sharia legislation. For the Diller Foundation and Jewish federations across the country to fund such an outfit that targets Muslims is yet another stab at the Muslim community, which took place while interfaith efforts were underway across the country. What is the purpose of promoting interfaith relations if major funding agencies for the American Jewish community are engaged in the wholesale funding of Islamophobic groups and individuals? Interfaith dialogue is meaningless and insulting if funding Islamophobic groups is undertaken within the same mainstream organizational infrastructure.

I have reviewed detailed tax returns from multiple Jewish federations across the country and was shocked by what I found. Yes, the Jewish Federation and Diller Foundation handed out many grants and funded projects undertaken by community groups, organizations and universities, which are all worthwhile and inspiring considering the commitment and commendable high levels of generosity regularly demonstrated. However, the funding directed at Islamophobic groups, Geert Wilders‘s neo-Nazi Freedom Party, the U.S. Tea Party and others, stains and undermines the good that is done.

The issue at hand is the split personality of the organized American Jewish community which can be seen on one hand as generosity, building hospitals, funding schools, liberal political positions and offering support in defense of civil rights for all. However, on the other hand, the same community groups acting on behalf of Zionism and seeking to protect Israel’s interests can exhibit the most reactionary and racist discourse when it comes to Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and their allies.

The issue of Palestine causes the American Jewish community to pursue strategies and policies that undermine and cross the ethical and moral boundaries of the community. Resorting to funding Islamophobia is a sign of failure and an admission that Israel as a brand is no longer defensible on merits alone. Demonizing BDS activists, targeting Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organizers and defaming faculties on college campuses is behind all the efforts at rescuing Israel’s image and brand. Funding Wilders will not rescue the brand but will mar it further and lead most young Jewish Americans to seek a different and more meaningful future.

Jewish journalist and activists who exposed these contradictions are acting to uphold and express the highest ethical and moral ideals of the Jewish community and often are doing so in partnership with Palestinians and Muslims in the U.S. and abroad. Appealing and funding Islamophobia in the hope of saving Israel’s apartheid is a failed and failing policy, and no amount of grants or resources can rescue dying settler colonialism. The future belongs to Jews, Muslims and justice-loving people from all walks of life that are already crafting and envisioning a different tomorrow, one that is not wedded to securing a demographically engineered apartheid state.

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Enough of Mohamed bin Salman!

His boss, Trump, cannot allow him to become King and maybe just maybe, the American political system is waking up to the monster they have chained to their coat tails.

Jamal Khashoggi: end game for Saudi thug Mohamed bin Salman

Turkish intelligence MİT and Istanbul police have the photos and names of the 15 murderers of Jamal Khashoggi, who are all linked to Saudi Intelligence, the Saudi foreign service and Mohamed bin Salman’s personal guard.

Khashoggi entered the consulate on CCTV footage (above centre), and no footage exists which films him exiting.

MİT knows that Jamal Khashoggi was killed, and in which room he was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, because they have taken samples from the drain pipes around the consulate. They now want to search both the consulate and the Consul’s personal residence, as well as dig up its garden, which is under constant surveillance.

Bin Salman’s recent boast that the Turks are welcome to search the Consulate is an invitation now suddenly withdrawn, as it has become clear that  it is a police forensics team that is seeking access.

Trump has said nothing through all this, except that he knows nothing, although Mike Pence made a lame offer for the FBI to help out. This is clearly not necessary.

Mohamed bin Salman has destroyed Yemen because he doesn’t want any of the two major political blocks in the country to come to power, neither Houthis nor al-Islah (the Muslim Brotherhood). He has put the lives of 25m people at risk of starvation and epidemic.

But it is not this vicious war in Yemen that is going to bring bin Salman down. The war has been legitimised through U.S., British and French involvement. It is the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul which will achieve this; something the one-time journalist, critical of the current Saudi tyrant, is probably smiling about from the place where he now is. None of the hypocrites running the U.S., Britain or France will be able to whitewash this outrageous breach of all political and diplomatic norms. It would have passed if only he hadn’t been caught. Now it is too late.

All of bin Salman’s enemies are circling. And when bin Salman falls, the policy of total destruction that Trump and Kushner are gradually carrying out in the Middle East, will come to an abrupt close.


The “non-sectarian” nationalism of the political reconstruction of Iraq

As Muqtada al-Sadr brings new hope of a new non-sectarian nationalist politics to Iraq, the selection of Barham Salih as president and Adel Abdul-Mahdi as prime minister confirm the positive trend. Marco Cornelos writes on the subject:

On 2 October, the Iraqi parliament appointed Kurdish politician Barham Salih as the new president of the republic. This is good news for the country and for the region.

Salih is a sophisticated and experienced personality, relentless in promoting dialogue and coexistence. He knows the complexities and the shortcomings of his country, the composite interests of its neighbours, and how to address the international community to maintain the support to Iraq. Although the provisions of the Iraqi constitution limit his powers, the new president, through his authoritativeness, will definitely raise the profile of the presidency in Iraqi policy; hopefully, he will also be able to lessen the intricacies of its political system.

Salih could play an important role in steering Washington away from making more fateful mistakes in the region; similarly, he could also soften certain “basic instincts” coming from some political circles in Tehran. In assuming his new role, Salih behaved differently from any other Iraqi politician arriving in such a high position. Only two hours after his oath, he formally asked Adel Abdul Mahdi to form a new government. Someone else would have waited days, maybe weeks, to revel their newly acquired power and take credit for Mahdi’s selection.

The tandem between the new president and the newly designated prime minister could be one of the more promising events that Iraq has been waiting for, for many years.

The challenges facing the new Iraqi leadership are daunting. Three priorities top the long list of what needs to be done. The first one is restoring basic services to the population, particularly in two critical areas: the ones liberated from Islamic State and in southern Iraq, which has been criminally neglected for decades and is now on the brink of an environmental disaster. The second is fighting corruption, together with streamlining bureaucratic procedures to attract investment, relaunch the economy and post-war reconstruction. The third priority is an effective counter-intelligence and law-enforcement effort to completely eradicate Da’esh. Reliable high-ranking Iraqi sources point to at least 20,000 jihadists still at large in the country, not only in the western part but also in north and western Baghdad, western Mosul and Kirkuk.

Nonetheless, a sense of fresh air is provided by the recent political developments. Iraq is distancing itself from its previous religious and ethnic sectarianism. Political blocs have more cross-confessional and cross-ethnic configuration.

Signs of political maturity in the Iraqi scene

One of the evident signs of the increasing political maturity in Iraq is that the same Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) – the Iran-backed militia, which played a major role in defeating IS – are engaged in an outreach exercise towards disgruntled Sunni constituencies. Iraq’s Sunnis have been affected by the shifting power balance in the country, the cruelty of Daesh and the destruction imposed by the conflict in the last four years.

Appointing Salih as president, Iraqi MPs also decided independently and against the will of the main Kurdish political party, the KDP.

Solid rumours point to the selection of Adel Abdul Mahdi for prime minister as the result of a tripartite agreement among the most important Shia power brokers in the region: Iranian IRGC Commander Qassem Suleimani, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, and Iraqi leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Therefore, if Iraq was a boxing match, Suleimani has prevailed over Brett McGurk, the US president’s special envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat IS, on points. Washington’s first choice as head of the government, the outgoing prime minister Haider al-Abadi, has been sidelined. Notwithstanding his merits in the successful conflict against IS, certain reservations about him in Tehran and the cold shoulder from Najaf’s Marja’aya, Iraq’s highest Shia religious authority, turned out to be insurmountable.

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Turkish police say Jamal Khashoggi hacked to death in Saudi Consulate

Turkish police believe that Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate he visited four days ago. ‘The murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,’ a source in the Turkish police force told Reuters.

The report said Khashoggi never left the Saudi Consulate, adding that 15 Saudi’s, including officials, were present at the consulate same day. They had arrived in Istanbul on two flights on Tuesday and were at the consulate at the same time as the journalist, and left again the same day.

A senior Turkish police source told Middle East Eye that Khashoggi had been “brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces. Everything was videotaped to prove the mission had been accomplished and the tape was taken out of the country”.

The diplomatic bags of the 15 Saudis visiting could not be opened told MEE, but Turkish intelligence was sure that Khashoggi’s remains were not in them. They had to be elsewhere. By the same token the source added, “The consulate is surrounded by cameras, no evidence of Khashoggi leaving was recorded on them.”

On Saturday, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office said it had begun investigating the disappearance of the prominent journalist, who has been missing for four days. AK Party spokesman Ömer Çelik later said that Turkey would uncover the details about prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and his whereabouts.

Iranian ally Adel Abdul-Mahdi for Prime Minister of Iraq

Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki (left above) is being asked by Barham Saleh, the newly elected President of Iraq, to form the new Iraqi government. He served as a Vice President from 2005 to 2011, as Oil Minister from 2014 to 2016, and as Finance Minister in the Interim government.

Abdel-Mahdi is a member of the Shi’a party the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, or SIIC, which was based in neighboring Iran during the Saddam Hussein era, after being established there in 1982 by Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim. SIIC’s militia wing used to be the Badr Brigade during the Iraqi Civil War of 2006–2007. After the Badr Brigade started its own party, the two continue in the same parliamentary coalition, National Wisdom Movement led by Ammar el-Hakim, which won 19 seats (in sixth place) in this year’s elections.

This a bad day for the US, which was pushing for Haidar el-Abadi to return to the post of Prime Minister, especially after the election of Barham Saleh from Sulaimaniyya and a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), also long standing allies of Iran in Kurdistan. The PUK stood against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s independence referendum pushed forward by Masood Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), with (overt) Israeli and (covert) US support. Saleh beat Barzani’s ally, Fuad Hussein in with 219 votes to 22 for the post of president. This astonishing win is at least partly due to the Shi’ite majority in Baghdad paying Barzani back for the independence referendum.

Also very a important reason for this outcome was the fact that Barham Saleh is known to be honest. Under his watch running the Suleimaniyah District, he had the airport built for only $43 million, while the facility in fact was worth $80 million. Some British and American companies had offered to build the airport for $100 million (which would have allowed them to share the extra profit with him – a practice common in Iraq, which politicians frequently acquiesce to in order to fund themselves).

Some in Turkmen circles are speculating that the US, backed by the PKK, PYD/YPG (aka Syrian  Democratic Force) in Syria, and the KDP in Erbil is trying to create an independent US-run Kurdish Kurdish enclave across NW Syria and Northern Iraq to exploit its oil and gas resources.  At least someone is having a crack at explaining why the US wants to keep its troops in Syria indefinitely.